Chillin’–a Little Background

Healing the world starts with me dropping one pebble at a time into one pond at a time.

Coming Soon. This is a preliminary draft of information on a facilitated workshop that is also an introduction to Caring Communities, an aggressive initiative which is a tiny sliver of a big honkin’ movement, the Great Transition Initiative.

  1. Chillin’ objective: provide a people-friendly, WIIFM-intensive, non-threatening introduction to scientifically validated, life-changing self development disciplines. Give participants a taste of connecting with themselves. Take the opportunity to “pitch” Caring Communities and the potential for making a broad impact.
  2. Caring Communities impacts the greater good one community at a time by championing often-ignored aspects of human development. Caring Communities strengthens the global social fabric and remedies social and emotional issues by reconnecting people with what makes us human. Emotional well-being and drives performance, productivity and economic prosperity for individuals, organizations, communities, society, the world.
  3. The Great Transition Initiative is an international network for the critical exploration of concepts, strategies, and visions for a transition to a future of enriched lives, human solidarity, and a resilient biosphere.

Chillin’ is not weird voodoo, not excruciatingly painful yoga, not mantra-chanting incense-burning meditation, not falling into a trance induced by candle-gazing. All of that is too strange for most to even think about trying. But most people don’t realize the damage done by physical and emotional pressures they may not be aware of. Most people don’t realize the incredible benefits of actively managing their mental well-being, and don’t know how easy it can be.

What if there was a way to hit a mental and physical reset button, neutralizing emotional and physical stressors that turn your brain to jell-o and can even kill you?  Simple ways to “chill” your body and mind anytime anywhere without anyone knowing, using scientifically validated techniques that have been practiced for hundreds of years? Would you want to give it a shot?

Four Essentials for Chillin’

An important note: “mindfulness” is the rage but it’s nothing more than being fully aware of something and staying focused on that one thing. Hit File Delete for all the other noise.

Chillin’ takes time to practice and learn four essentials that work together: Focus, Breathing, Posture, Routine. It’s OK to ease into things, so you can learn the mechanics one at a time. Kids can embrace Chillin’ quite readily, but most adults have a lot of catching up to do and bad habits to unlearn. So don’t lose interest if results are not immediate.

(Essential One) Focus–Mental Discipline.

An undisciplined mind can be a dictator, chaotic, unruly, a bb in a boxcar. Use focusing aids, ONE thing to direct your thoughts: the right music (a couple of examples follow) a physical object, even one thought in particular. My favorite easy Chill routine is a piece of the right music in the background while staring into a candle flame, focusing on just the flame, then slowly add a little mindful breathing.

It helps for starters if you’re in the right environment with few distractions, but later you’ll be able to focus enough to block out the distractions around you.

(Essential Two) Breathing.

You know how to breathe already but you’ll focus on it a little differently when you’re in Chill mode. First, focus on every breath—in through your nose, out through your mouth. Use your mental discipline to focus on speed and depth. Park your mind on nothing but breathing…it’s your first focal point! Slow, controlled deep, breaths.

Most people think their chests should puff out when they’re taking deep breaths. Aim lower! With your hand on your diaphragm—middle of your chest just under your breast bone—slowly fill your lungs to maximum capacity. As you breathe in you should feel your stomach grow. Deep breathing and singing from the diaphragm is used by accomplished singers because they get more power and control and are able to sing longer phrases. It works.

(Essential Three) Posture.

Yoga is all about the spine, the superhighway for your nervous system and all of your energy flow. I’ll testify!

Except for an old football injury, the only back problem I’ve ever had was a nagging muscle issue. I went to the chiropractor, who probed both sides of my spine, each one of my vertebrae. Two minutes later, he pressed on one vertebrae wing. My right arm went dead. My back / muscle issue was rooted in the nerve flow regulated by one specific vertebrae wing.

Get started right now. Wherever / whenever you are sitting or standing, just straighten your spine! Add a little stretch and twist while you’re at it. If you’re like most you’re all tensed up and just that minimal movement will pop a few bones. It’s not just a 60+y.o. thing. A 10-minute daily routine called The Five Tibetans is a specific stretching sequence that flexes and aligns the spine in the optimal order. Key words….stretch, flex, align and routine. Stay tuned.

(Essential Four) Routine, First Cousin to Discipline. An old football coach said “practice the way you want to play, because you play the way you practice.” Very zen for a jock in the 70’s. But it holds true for sports, music, any hobby, relationships, anything. Including Chillin’.

Putting it all Together: Your first Mindfulness / Meditation session.

Discipline / Focus, Breathing and Posture are all in play. And this should quickly become a Routine for you. It won’t take long to learn or to realize the immediate payback. And you can do it any anytime anywhere, without anyone even knowing. EX: if I have a particularly crazy group of students, I’ll do it. If my blood pressure is too high at the doctor’s I say “give me a couple minutes”. They come back, re-do my BP, I’m great! So here’s what you do….

Posture, alignment. Sit in a comfortable chair–back straight, feet on the ground, thighs parallel to the ground. Rest your hands palm-down on your thighs. (option: cross-legged on the floor if you can. Spine MUST be straight!)

Control your breathing. Take slow and deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Check your diaphragm, it should be moving.

Focus. Close your eyes, focus on every breath—the changing sound of the nose>mouth cycle, how the air feels coming in and going out, the movement of your stomach. Block out thoughts about anything else. Blocking may be rough at first—our minds are power-hungry dictators;

Expand your focus as you get more adept at this kind of breathing, graduating to “whole-body relaxation”. FOCUS-become fully aware of your body one part at a time, consciously relax that part. Focus on nothing but that body part and how it feels as you fully relax it. Move on, repeat.

Option to closing your eyes: use a specific focusing object to rest your eyes on. Don’t over-analyze the object, just rest your gaze on it. Let the object melt away, let your eyes glaze over. (it’s called spacing out, I can do this in a heartbeat). Candle flame works great, but I found it’s a little awkward to light a candle in a high school classroom.

BONUS environmental elements: especially when you’re starting out, if you can choose your location a quiet and secluded solitary place is ideal. Mood lighting (low) helps too.

Extra-extra bonus: music. Baroque = good. Rap and metal = bad. Stay tuned for Chillin’ Music.

Let’s Talk a Little Yoga…The Five Tibetans

How scary is yoga? You’ve heard all about your kundalini and seen the workout vids, right? Confession: until recently, to me “kundalini” was some kind of liqueur. I’m 63. I used to be in good shape, pretty athletic, active. But none of that has been high on my priority list for over a decade. I’ve never ever followed an exercise regimen of any kind, not even regularly walking. I have never ever watched what I eat, just within reason…a heart attack tends to bring you down to earth. I guess I’m lucky. Maybe stupid. My excuse: I hadn’t found the right routine for me.

I’ve always refused to consider contorting myself to the point of wondering whether I can untie my limbs from the crazy positions those yogis get into. And the Five Tibetans is traditional yoga. But I can easily do the Five Tibetans. It’s only a ten-minute sequence, longer only if you really get into it. But it will work wonders, and it’s scientifically validated.

More coming soon but read and get started now if you’re just dying (sorry), linked above.

Chillin’ Music

 Neuroscientists Discover a Song That Reduces Anxiety By 65 Percent. Excerpts:

Researchers at Mindlab International in the U.K. wanted to know what kind of music induces the greatest state of relaxation. The study involved having participants try to solve difficult puzzles — which inherently triggered a certain degree of stress — while connected to sensors. At the same time, participants listened to a range of songs as researchers measured their brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing.

They found one song, “Weightless”, resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

Interestingly, the song was specifically designed to induce this highly relaxed state. Created by Marconi Union, the musicians teamed up with sound therapists to carefully arrange harmonies, rhythms and bass lines, which in turn slow a listener’s heart rate and blood pressure, while also lowering stress hormones like cortisol.

DOUBLE-DIPPER APPLICATION.

Some people need structure or it’s not a “real” song. But sound of any kind is magical. Watch and listen in a quiet and soothing environment, staying focused on the sounds and graphics. And while you’re at it, do your controlled breathing. They’re meant to work together. Weightless, 8min version 

That’s it for now, kids. Like I said earlier, this is a draft / preliminary / introductory material only. We’re still in R & D / blueprint phase but if you like what you see, drop a line and we’ll keep you posted!

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